Irish Hockey League Review

A Working Group was established by the Board of Hockey Ireland to undertake a review of the EYHL.

The review was to encompass both EYHL 1 and EYHL 2.

The review group proceeded with the following remit:

“Undertake a review of the format of EY Hockey Leagues, incorporating input from stakeholders at all levels, with stakeholders having a meaningful mechanism to input into the process and that their input is listened to and considered by the review group.”

Irish Hockey League Review Group Recommendations

The above IHL Review Group Recommendation Document and the recommendations within have been adopted by the Hockey Ireland Board, and the following changes will apply:

2021/22

EYHL 1

  • EYHL 1 to remain as a full league competition of 10 teams
  • Promotion / Relegation between EYHL 1 & EYHL 2 to “2 up / 2 down” ( no 9th / 2nd place playoffs )
  • All EYHL 1 & 2 squads to be maximum of 16 players
  • Change from top 4 to top 6 to go through to EY1 Champions Trophy Finals  – 1st and 2nd placed teams progressing straight to Semi Finals with 3rd / 4th / 5th & 6th playing in Quarter Finals with winners progressing to  Semi Finals

EYHL 2

Women’s: The winners of each of the two 5 team sections to go through to progress to the Semi Finals with the 2nd and 3rd in place team in each section to play off in Quarter Finals and winners progressing to the Semi Finals

Men’s: No changes for 2021 / 22 season

 

2022 / 23

EYHL 2

  • Both EYHL 2 Competitions to be made up of 10 teams played in 2 groups of 5 – in parallel with Provincial leagues
  • Qualification for Promotion playoffs to be as Women’s for 2021 / 22
  • Existing Provincial qualifications for Women’s to remain in place
  • Men’s EYHL 2 to consist of 3 teams from Leinster / Munster & Ulster with 10th place determined by a play off between Leinster / Ulster teams – Play offs to be completed at the end of the season so that qualified teams for the following season are confirmed

 

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Hall of Fame member Nora Smith passes away

Hockey Ireland Hall of Fame member Nora Smith has passed away this week peacefully at the Beacon Hospital.

She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 in recognition of her exceptional international career which spanned from 1961 to 1967 and encompassed 20 caps.

An outstanding centre-half and passer of the ball, the Muckross player was a member of the touring team to the USA in 1963 and Germany in 1967.

She went on to become the Irish women’s first ever coach from 1973 to 1976 and she subsequently became Genesis’s first coach, helping them reach the Irish Senior Cup final in 1981 just five years after their inception.

Funeral information is available via RIP.ie: https://rip.ie/death-notice/nora-smith-bray-wicklow/459479

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Ireland junior teams to take part in GB&I Nations Hockey Development Series

Ireland’s rising stars are set to take part in the GB&I Nations Hockey Development Series which will run throughout July.

It offers an exciting, high level competition for developing male and female athletes who missed out on European Junior Age Grade competition in both 2020 and 2021.

It comes in the wake of Ireland’s decision – along with Scotland, England and Wales – to withdraw from the 2021 EuroHockey Under-18 Championships due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new tournament will be designated a “development series” which will allow teams to involve a wider panel of players, therefore offering an excellent development opportunity for competing nations teams while also providing meaningful matches.

The competition will run over three weekends of double headers, starting on July 10 and 11. For Ireland, this means the boys and girls teams will each play Wales on Saturday, July 10 and Sunday, July 11 (match location to be confirmed).

Ireland head to Lilleshall for games against England on Friday, July 16 and Saturday, July 17 before returning home for ties against Scotland on Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25.

Should the format prove successful, it is hoped it can be replicated in the future.

Speaking about the new initiative, Hockey Ireland Performance Director Adam Grainger said: “International Junior Age Grade player development is of paramount importance for Hockey Ireland as we transition between Olympic cycles, and the decision to withdraw from the EuroHockey Under-18 Championships has therefore not been easy.

“Working with our close hockey neighbours, Hockey Ireland has secured a beneficial development opportunity for our players that will help to restart their individual international hockey pathways.

“This development series, combined with ongoing programme activity for the U23 girls and the soon to be communicated U21 boys programme, will create windows of opportunity for players to showcase their potential.”

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Irish Women’s European Squad Announcement.

After over 20 months preparing in the background, the Irish women’s hockey team is looking to hit the ground running at June’s European Championships in the Netherlands.

It is the first phase of a huge summer that culminates in the Tokyo Olympic Games with the Euros doubling up as a key preparation tournament for the Games while also providing three potential 2022 World Cup tickets.

It means head coach Sean Dancer has selected his strongest available squad for the eight-team competition at Amstelveen’s Wagener Stadium, bidding for a first-ever semi-final spot.

There, they will take on world number one side the Netherlands on June 5th in a rematch of the 2018 World Cup final; on June 7th, Ireland face Scotland before closing out the group stages on June 9th against Spain.

Dancer’s 18-player panel features 12 of the 2018 World Cup silver medal-winning side and 13 of the team that won qualification to the Olympic Games in November 2019 in a dramatic shoot-out in front of a packed-out Donnybrook Stadium.

Heroes like Ayeisha McFerran, Lizzie Colvin, Nicci Daly, Nikki Evans, Megan Frazer Hannah Matthews, Shirley McCay, Katie Mullan, Anna O’Flanagan, Lena Tice, Roisin Upton, Sarah Hawkshaw and Chloe Watkins bring a wealth of talent to the table.

There have been injury issues, though, which have seen Zoe Wilson and Barr twins Serena and Bethany have to sit out the summer action.

And so, over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dancer’s panel has evolved with several new faces emerging.

Rising UCD star Michelle Carey is set to make her formal capped international debut when the Green Army take the field against the Dutch.

A product of the Railway Union youth system, she has been an ever-present at training camps in Spain, Belfast and England since the turn of the year, scoring a number of goals from midfield in international challenge matches to date.

She is one of three players making their first appearance in a world ranking event. Loreto speedster Sarah Torrans gets her chance having been on the list of reserves for the World Cup while UCD’s Hannah McLoughlin has impressed in defence in recent series against Great Britain and Scotland.

Cratloe native Naomi Carroll will play her first capped match since the summer of 2018, having taken the long road back from an ACL injury sustained while in ladies football action for Clare. Since then, she was part of the rejuvenated Irish indoor hockey side in 2020 before earning her recall to the senior outdoor setup.

All going well, a number of established faces will hit major milestones during the tournament. Evans is two caps shy of her 200th international outing; Colvin will hit that same mark if she plays four matches in the competition; Matthews, meanwhile, is three caps away from 150 appearances in green.

Due to Covid-19 concerns, the European Hockey Federation has allowed a further two players to join the panel as “travelling reserves” in addition to the initial panel of 18.

Deirdre Duke will offer cover for midfield and forward lines while uncapped Muckross player Sarah McAuley waits in the wings defensively.

For World Cup qualification, Ireland will only be absolutely assured of a ticket if they finish in the top three positions. Currently, Spain and the Netherlands are already pre-qualified as hosts; should either or both finish in the medal positions in Amstelveen, fourth or fifth place could provide the golden ticket.

Speaking at the announcement about the selection, coach Dancer said: “It has been a long, tough 12 months, preparing in a Covid world. It is a credit to the group’s strength to arrive at this year’s Euros with a very balanced team.

“I will enjoy watching the experienced players controlling our play in combination with the excitement of our young players such as Michelle Carey and Hannah McLoughlin.

“The European Championships is a major tournament with ramifications for next year’s World Cup. We have made our objectives very clear and will push hard as a group towards them.”

The squad was announced this morning in Skerries at a joint event run by primary sponsors SoftCo and Park Developments, supporting their rise to the sport’s elite levels.

Congratulations to the players that have been selected for the Irish women’s hockey squad for the European Championship today,” SoftCo co-founder Susan Spence said.

“Since achieving a World Cup silver medal, this group have continued to drive forward with Olympic qualification and the recent historic victory over Great Britain. We are extremely proud to be their main sponsor as they go in search of European and Olympic glory this summer and wish them every success.”

Park Developments’ managing director Sean O’Neill added: “From a Park Developments perspective, we wish Sean, Katie and all the squad all the very best for the 2021 European Championships.

“Our journey with this team is built on support, and we are so proud of this group’s unique ability to inspire so many young sports people and fans alike.”

Ireland women’s squad for EuroHockey Championships – June 5-13, 2021, Wagener Stadium, Amstelveen, Netherlands (club/caps):

Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, 100) – goalkeeper

Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13) – goalkeeper

Michelle Carey (UCD, 0)

Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 111)

Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins, 196)

Nicci Daly (Loreto, 189)

Nikki Evans (Old Alex, 198)

Megan Frazer (Belfast Harlequins, 136)

Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 33)

Hannah Matthews (Loreto, 147)

Shirley McCay (Pegasus, 306)

Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 14)

Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, 193) – captain

Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 207) – vice-captain

Lena Tice (Old Alex, 109)

Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 26)

Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute, 76)

Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 226)

Travelling reserves: Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 141), Sarah McAuley (Muckross, 0)

Tournament details

EuroHockey Championships 2021 (all times Irish)

Group A (world rank): Netherlands (1st), Spain (7th), Ireland (8th), Scotland (22nd)

Group B: Germany (4th), England (5th), Belgium (12th), Italy (17th)

Irish fixture schedule

June 5th, 2021: Ireland v Netherlands, 2.30 pm

June 7th, 2021: Ireland v Scotland, 11.30 am

June 9th, 2021: Ireland v Spain, 11.30 am

June 11th 2021: Semi-finals/relegation pool

June 12th/13th: Medal matches/relegation pool

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President’s Newsletter May 2021

It is great to see that hockey and outdoor sport can start again across the 4 provinces. It has been a long period of restrictions with no games to watch or events to attend.  I must admit I had never experienced meetings on zoom in March 2020, but this has become a daily way of hockey life over the last 14 months.

With no hockey matches and events, John Dennis, Vice-President, Linda Monaghan, National Development Manager and I were keen to communicate with smaller clubs; those that have a maximum of 3 adult teams, are not involved in EYHL and ideally have a developing youth section and have organised pilot communication meetings with these clubs.

We held our first session was on 18th March, when we were joined by club representatives from Antrim, Ashton, Crescent, Dungannon, Dungarvan, Greenfields, Kilkenny, Kinvara, Midleton, Mullingar, Priorians and Tullamore. We were pleased to welcome Eric Brady, Chair of Hockey Ireland’s Board of Directors. Topics discussed included how clubs were coping with the Covid restrictions and the impact on their Youth/Underage section; where did their Club see itself in terms of Hockey Ireland’s priorities; how did their club see a role for your Club in supporting the Women’s team for the Olympics and how was their Club coping financially, coupled with the importance of participation in National Competitions?

A second session was held on 29th April when we were joined by Eric Brady and club representatives from Abbeyleix, Athlone, Ballynahinch, Carlow, Catholic Institute, Clonakilty, Galway, Gorey, Limavady, Limerick, Naas, Raphoe, Saintfield, Tipperary and Wicklow. Over a two-hour chat, topics discussed were how had their club coped with the Covid restrictions and in particular the impact on their Youth/Underage section; how was their club keeping the link between players of all standards, leaving school and continuing to play hockey at 3rd level education; has their club a pathway for developing Under 16 players into adult hockey and would their club be interested in joining a workshop to get advice on grant applications?

We plan to continue with this project with our 3rd meeting on Wednesday 2nd June and hopefully organise a Forum at the start of the new season to feedback on questions that came up in the 3 sessions. My thanks go to John, Linda and Eric for their help, support and enthusiasm with the meetings.

When only our elite hockey players could carry on with their preparations the 3-game series that the Women played against GB in March gave us all the chance to watch live hockey on TV. The Irish women played exceptionally well and showed great determination and drive to level the series with a win, a draw and a defeat. The squad have played another series against Great Britain and continued with practice games against Scotland on 15th & 16th May before the European Championships in the Netherlands in June.

Mark Tumilty, the Senior Men’s Coach, is pleased with the progress being made by the players currently involved with the Senior Men’s Programme. Regional sessions are taking place in Leinster, Munster and Ulster midweek, with national sessions happening at the weekend. The focus in the coming weeks will be preparing for the European B division in Poland, in August. Mark hopes to confirm warm-up games against Scotland and Great Britain during June and July. It has been a difficult 12 months with many unknowns, but hopefully things are becoming clearer and the players are excited to get playing competitive matches again.

We are delighted to support Inez Cooper’s candidature for election to the Executive Board of the Federation Internationale de hockey (FIH). Inez has a long and distinguished history of involvement in hockey in Ireland and has filled significant roles at Club, Provincial and International level. In July 2021 she will celebrate eight years on the Executive Board of the European Hockey Federation (EHF). The election will take place on 22nd May.

Soon after writing my first newsletter, we heard of the passing of Vivienne Clarke, a stalwart of Hockey Ireland. Vivienne will be sadly missed as she went out of her way to help everyone. With the restrictions on travel and funeral service attendance, we were unable to join Vivienne’s family at her funeral service but were able to watch the service online and hear the very fitting tributes and joy that she brought into the life of so many. A minute’s silence, before the start of Ireland’s Sunday match against Great Britain at Queens University’s Playing Fields, enabled the hockey community to remember Vivienne.

More sad news arrived when the death of Cees Koppelaar on 26th April at the age of 81 was announced. Cees was Ireland’s first external appointment as Senior Men’s Coach from 1987 to 1997 and later became an Honorary Life Member of Hockey Ireland. He brought a new dimension to the game in Ireland, based on his vast experience in identifying young talented players in Holland. He established a network of key coaches at Interprovincial level and was a regular visitor to the provinces, where he ran training sessions for existing and potential international players. Behind his affable and friendly approach to all was a steely resolve to achieve. This focus for success was reflected in the Senior Men competing in the World Cup in Lahore in 1990 and finishing fifth in the European Championships in 1995. Tributes to him say that he “put Ireland on the map in European and World terms”.

 

Ann Rosa

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Tumilty Looking Towards International Stage this Summer

With some light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Irish men’s coach Mark Tumilty is looking forward to finally unleashing some young guns onto the international stage following almost a 20-month wait.

The last outings for the side were October 2019’s Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver. With the end of that cycle, there was always going to be a turnover of players and some new faces as the coach looked to the 2023 World Cup and Paris 2024. That rejuvenation, however, went on hold with the 2020 schedule wiped out but the Banbridge man can look forward to a busy second half to this year with plenty on the table.

Fixtures against Scotland and Great Britain are pencilled in for June and July ahead of August’s EuroHockey Championship II in Gniezno, Poland and a subsequent World Cup qualifier in October. It is a flurry of action from which Tumilty says plenty of new faces will get their chance to shine.

“We have a very young group, an exciting group and one that has worked extremely hard over the last year,” he said.

“But it is definitely a rebuild job that we need to embrace. We need to be patient with these players. There will be ups and downs and challenges, but I definitely think there is talent to work with and that’s part of the enjoyment in the role.”

Having that World Cup qualifier shot is a big boost for Tumilty. It means a top four finish at the Euro B division will put the Green Machine into an eight-team event with two places on the line. Initially, such an avenue looked to be off limits but the European Hockey Federation’s members canvassed successfully for this option to be introduced.

“Excellent news. When I first saw we weren’t getting a World Cup qualifier shot, alarm bells were ringing. But it reflects the good work of the EHF and their relationship they have with their federations.

“They deserve a lot of credit for that. It gives the lads a good focus for the next three or four months and could give us an extra focus for 2022.

“Having said that, with the FIH calendar, there is lots happening every year with the Nations Cup and the new Euro qualifier process. It is good to see that it gives us a structure.

“It highlights to me the importance of growing our player base. A lot of the guys returning home are now going into employment; we have to recognise people have a certain amount of annual leave; there’s not the same flexibility as if they were full-time players. We need to be able to manage it and have those younger players coming through.”

Since the Olympic qualifiers, Chris Cargo and Eugene Magee have formally retired while Jonny Bell, Stephen Cole and Stu Loughrey are taking time out for the time being.

It means opportunity knocks for the youngsters which Tumilty has been working with in regional sessions. In Munster, ex-internationals David Hobbs and Jonny Bruton have been heading things up; in Ulster, Erroll Lutton, Ray Geddis and Scott McCandless are in situ while Irish Under-21 coach Joe Brennan and senior assistant coach Jason Klinkradt are on board in Leinster.

Tumilty has also picked up some strong additions to his support staff. Eoin Cunniffe has been installed as physical performance lead for the side and the junior age groups while Neill Irwin will be the team manager and nutritionist.

“Eoin co-ordinates the medical side of the staff, the physios, the S&C and so on. He has done really well in developing the guys physically. The way the game has gone, it has moved a bit more toward the physical side from the technical and tactical side.

“We have definitely made strides in that area which I am pleased with. He has a good relationship with the players and is someone we are working with a long-term objective to develop in the underage groups.

“For Neill, he is also involved with Dublin GAA as a nutritionist which gives him a great understanding of high performance and has been involved with a very successful and professional environment.

“Manager is a key role and he has developed a good relationship with the players. Staffing-wise, it is good to get the team nailed down. It has taken a while but it is getting there.”

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Ireland Take 4 – 1 Win Over Scotland

Ireland 4 (Evans, Malseed, Hawkshaw, O’Flanagan), Scotland (Semple).

Ireland secures a second victory in as many days against Scotland. The match got underway with higher energy than the start of yesterday’s game, with Evans pushing the ball up the pitch and O’Flanagan chasing it fast, but Scotland’s Buchanan managed to get there before O’Flanagan could make the most of the opportunity. Scotland countered shortly after with a shot from Jamieson into the Irish circle, however, she sent the ball wide of the mark with no one on hand to meet it. O’Flanagan managed to put herself in a strong position for a second shot on the goal, but Buchanan came out to meet her and the deflection failed to convert to a goal. McLoughlin, Evans and Duke all contributed to further pressing the Scottish defence, however, it was a penalty corner to Ireland that saw McCay’s shot defended from the goal but Evans securing the rebound to give Ireland the lead in the opening quarter.

There were chances for both sides in the remainder of the quarter with Malseed set up in front of the Scotland goal before being pushed out, while Jamieson and Howie launched a brief attack on the Irish circle before being defended out. Scotland’s Dark pressed hard towards the close of the quarter but an interception from Evans, and some strong defence from McAuley finished the first quarter Ireland 1 – 0 Scotland.
The second quarter saw Captain Katie Mullan offload to Watkins for a skilful entry into Scottish territory before passing it off to Malseed to sweep into the net for a 2 – 0 lead. McLoughlin worked well to provide Carroll with an opportunity to further this moments later, the visitors defended well and the whistle blew as O’Flanagan attempted a shot as possession came back to Ireland in the circle. Camlin had gotten her pad to the ball regardless.
A McLoughlin and Evans worked well bringing the ball up to the Scottish circle, although Wilson pushed them back out. A Scottish attack was intercepted by Upton, passed to Carey for a long run up the pitch to off load to Carroll who was pushed out. It wasn’t long before McCay’s pass to Evans lined up Sarah Hawkshaw to put the ball past Camlin for an extended lead of 3 – 0. Ireland’s penalty corner opportunity with 5 minutes remaining in the first half saw the deflection go high. Scotland responded shortly afterwards with a penalty corner of their own, with Semple managing to get the ball past McFerran after scattered play in the circle. Half time saw Ireland 3 – 1 Scotland.
Jamieson secured a penalty corner for Scotland as the second half got underway, Ireland defended well with McLoughin forcing it out of play. Colvin attempted a strong shot into the Scottish circle, but Dark met it and sent it back out. Not long later Upton finds O’Flanagan in a quiet Scottish circle who finds her way past the keeper to the net, bringing the score line to Ireland 4 – 1 Scotland.
Sarah Hawkshaw was on form with a skilful interception from Scottish midfield and managing a shot on the goal, it was ultimately saved, however. Wilson attempted a long shot into the Irish circle, with no one there to meet it the ball went wide of the mark. Scotland pressed again, this time with Bell pushing for entry. McAuley kept her cool and made it difficult for her. When Bell did manage to take a shot, the resulting awkward angle of her shot allowed McFerran to swat it away easily.
The final quarter saw Ireland have a brief defensive period before Evans and Carroll put the Scottish goal under pressure. The ball appeared to enter the goal, but after some confusion, no goal was awarded. Carroll continued to attack, resulting in a penalty corner for Ireland. What followed was a flurry of penalty corners with none converting to the scoreboard.
Semple and McEwan made a brief attack on the Irish circle but were kept out. McCay defended well when Holmes returned shortly after. McLoughlin and Hawkshaw brought playback up the pitch where Evans and O’Flanagan attempted to increase the margin of their win. Evans shot found the Scottish defence, with the match wrapping up moments later.

Ireland: M Carey, N Carroll, L Colvin, M Frazer, D Duke, N Evans, S Hawkshaw, Z Malseed, S McAuley, A McFerran, S McCay, H McLoughlin, K Mullan, E Murphy, A O’Flanagan, C Perdue, R Upton, C Watkins.

Scotland: M Bell, J Buchanan, F Burnet, L Camlin, L Campbell, R Collins, B Condie, E Dark, J Eadie, K Holmes, S Jamieson, H McEwan, H Howie, K Robertson, L Sabatelli, F Semple, B Shields, M Steiger, E Wilson, B Ward.

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Match Report. Ireland v Scotland 5-1 Victory

Ireland Claims 5-1 Victory Over Scotland in First of Two Match Series in Final Prep for Europeans in June.

15 May 2021

Ireland 5 (Duke, Upton, Malseed, Carey, Evans), Scotland 1 (Burnet).

A short period of scattered play got the match marked off in the opening minutes before Deirdre Duke managed to strike from just inside the top of the circle and catch Scotland’s keeper off-guard. Hannah McLoughlin had the next opportunity of the match, applying pressure in the Scottish circle, but failed to convert it to the scoreboard. However, a penalty corner to Ireland with less than two minutes left in the first quarter saw Evans insert, deflection from McLoughlin before an Upton goal increased the lead to 2-0.

Malseed increased the Irish lead again in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and it wasn’t long before she was back pressing on the Scottish circle again. Scotland’s Burnet returned the challenge on the Irish circle moments later, but McFerran saved and pushed the ball back up the pitch where Ireland was awarded a penalty corner shortly afterwards. This time a shot from McLoughlin was saved and pushed out by the Scottish goalkeeper.

Scotland’s Sabatelli managed to create a chance for herself in front of the Irish goal. McFerran dived to save but the strike went wide of the mark. Caoimhe Perdue and Sarah McAuley played well throughout the second quarter before Katie Mullan created a chance for Naomi Carroll which was ultimately defended out. A penalty corner for Scotland saw Jamieson’s shot defended on the line by Shirley McCay, but the Burnet found the rebound to finally put Scotland on the scoreboard ahead of the half-time whistle went with a 3-1 lead to Ireland.

O’Flanagan and Evans pushed hard from the whistle to attack the Scotland defence, however, the eventual shot on the goal went too high. Michelle Carey was on form with a number of precise interventions, stealing possession back from Scotland on a number of occasions. The third quarter provided several chances for both sides. A flurry of chances for Ireland failed to return a goal, while McFerran saved two attempts from Scotland. An eventual cross circle shot from Duke was met perfectly by Carey who tapped it over the line to bring the score to Ireland 4-1 Scotland.

The final quarter saw a Watkins shot bounce off the Scotland keeper before Evans secured the rebound making it 5-1 to the hots. Sarah McAuley made her presence known to the Scottish attackers deftly intercepting as they approached the Irish circle. Scotland failed to convert their final penalty corner chance, while O’Flanagan shot wide in Ireland’s last real chance of the game. Scotland pressed in the final two minutes, however, fumbled in the circle and McFerran was able to kick the ball from harm’s way. Full-time score Ireland 5-1 Scotland.

Ireland: M Carey, N Carroll, L Colvin, D Duke, N Evans, S Hawkshaw, Z Malseed, S McAuley, A McFerran, S McCay, H McLoughlin, K Mullan, E Murphy, A O’Flanagan, C Perdue, R Upton, C Watkins.

Scotland: M Bell, J Buchanan, F Burnet, L Camlin, L Campbell, R Collins, B Condie, E Dark, J Eadie, K Holmes, S Jamieson, H McEwan, H Howie, K Robertson, L Sabatelli, F Semple, B Shields, M Steiger, E Wilson, B Ward.

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Hockey Ireland U19 Teams Withdraw from European Championships

Hockey Ireland has announced its decision to withdraw the U19 Boys and Girls National teams from competing in the EuroHockey Federation (EHF) European Championships in Valencia this July. The 2020 U18 EHF Championships were postponed last year, and an additional year was added to the age-group for 2021, making it an U19 event. The EHF distributed the tournament Covid-19 protocols this week and requested a decision from each Nation regarding their ability to travel and compete. Hockey Ireland are aware that a number of other nations have now also withdrawn.

Each nation has different levels of risk within their home country, along with different transport and quarantine requirements. The COVID-19 protocols were restrictive for underage players and costly to all the competing nations. It has been a very difficult decision for Hockey Ireland to make. However, several key factors from the protocols could not be overlooked and has led to this decision:

  • Government Guidelines state that all persons in the Republic of Ireland are advised against non-essential travel to any country. Elite Exemption for travel has only been granted to Hockey Ireland Senior programmes and professional sports teams within Ireland. Unfortunately, our U18 squads do not have elite exemption at this moment in time and are not guaranteed that the elite exemption stance on the U18 squads will change ahead of the tournament.
  • In line with Hockey Ireland safeguarding protocols, underage player and staff welfare is a priority. Hockey Ireland have concerns regarding the length of isolation periods should a player(s) test positive during the tournament or become close contacts, coupled with the fact that many travelling athletes would be U18 and would require an appropriate member of staff to remain nearby the isolation location in order to ensure their welfare.

Speaking on the decision, Performance Director Adam Grainger said, “This matter has been given careful deliberation. This was not an easy decision but one that was made with the players welfare in mind.

Following the decision to withdraw from the EHF European competition, Hockey Ireland have been discussing with the Home Nations regarding matches in July. We will be discussing this further with the management teams and will distribute information as soon as possible.”

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Green Army take on Scotland in Final Home Preparations for European’s

The Green Army will take on Scotland this weekend, the 15th and 16th of May, in Queen’s University Belfast. The sides last met in July 2019, with Ireland coming away from the series in Stormont with two wins and a draw.

The uncapped matches will be part of the final home match preparations for this summer’s European Championships in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Ireland will face Scotland as part of Pool A in the European Championships in June. Tournament hosts, and World Number One, the Netherlands will also play in Pool A of the Championship, with Spain completing the group.

With the EuroHockey Championships now an integral aspect of the World Cup qualification process, the 2018 silver medallists will be keen to ensure they maximise every opportunity to allow them to perform this summer in Amstelveen not only as a warmup for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games but also to secure their spot in the 2022 World Cup.

The squad for these matches is as follows:

Carey Michelle Leinster                 Midfielder             Uncapped
Carroll Naomi Munster               Striker                     111
Colvin Lizzie Ulster                    Midfielder              196
Duke Deirdre Leinster                Midfielder               141
Evans Nicola Leinster                Striker                      198
Frazer Megan Ulster                   Midfielder                136
Hawkshaw Sarah Leinster                Midfielder                33
Malseed Zara Ulster                    Striker                      Uncapped
Matthews Hannah Leinster                Defender                 147
McAuley Sarah Leinster                Defender                 Uncapped
McCay Shirley Ulster                    Defender                306
McLoughlin Hannah Leinster                Defender                 14
McFerran Ayeisha Ulster                    Goalkeeper             100
Mullan Katie Ulster                    Midfielder               193
Murphy Elizabeth Leinster                Goalkeeper             13
O’Flanagan Anna Leinster                Striker                      207
O’Flanagan Grace Leinster                Goalkeeper             36
Torrans Sarah Leinster                Striker                      26
Upton Roisin Munster               Defender                 76
Watkins Chloe Leinster                Midfielder               226

Speaking on the announcement, Head Coach Sean Dancer, said “These are our final matches ahead of European selection. We’re really looking forward to getting some games under pressure in the lead up to a major tournament”.

These matches will not be lived streamed.